Pittsburgh Business Court finds Insurer Owes Coverage for Covid-19 Business Losses

Judge Christine Ward of Pittsburgh’s Commerce and Complex Litigation Center recently granted summary judgment against an insurer that had denied business loss coverage arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic.  A copy of Judge Ward’s Opinion in Ungarean v. CNA can be found here.

The plaintiff dentist brought a declaratory judgment class action against his insurer, seeking business loss coverage resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and government responses to the pandemic. The issues before Judge Ward involved coverage under Business Income, Extra Expense, and Civil Authority policy language.  She also reviewed a number of policy exclusions.

We commend you to read the entire opinion in Ungarean v. CNA addressing each coverage section and the asserted exclusions.

In conclusion, Judge Ward observed that Pennsylvania law mandates construing the policy in favor of the insured in situations where there is “‘doubt or uncertainty about the meaning of ambiguous language used in a policy of insurance….’”  She found the relevant policy language at issue ambiguous regarding the scope and nature of coverage.  She held that, at a minimum, the plaintiff’s interpretations of the Business Income, Extra Expense, and Civil Authority policy language were reasonable. Judge Ward further held the insurer “failed to demonstrate that any of the insurance contract’s exclusions clearly and unambiguously prevent coverage.”

Thus, the insured won summary judgment finding coverage due.

Our thanks to attorney Mitchell L. Bach for bringing this case to our attention.

Posted by Lee Applebaum